According to their estimates, the land was valued at right around $525,000. When the Guatemalan government made a low ball offer of exactly that f*****g amount, United Fruit responded with a completely logical counter offer of $16,000,000. When Arbenz balked, United Fruit reportedly took the term "breakdown in negotiations" to dizzying new heights by asking the CIA to intervene. And boy did they intervene. God-DAMN did they intervene!
Along with other connections in the Eisenhower administration, then CIA head Allen Dulles had previously served on United Fruit's board of trustees. With that kind of direct access to the highest levels of the government and with McCarthyism in full swing, we imagine the telephone conversation that resulted in the CIA intervening on behalf of United Fruit went something like this:
United Fruit: "BANANAS blah blah blah OUR LAND blah blah PEASANTS blah blah COMMUNISTS!"
United Fruit: "Hello? Hello?"
**Hears explosions in background, takes cover**
With the CIA on board to help with their cause, United Fruit launched a massive and highly successful propaganda campaign to paint Arbenz as a communist threat to the United States. Included in the campaign was a film that linked the taking of United Fruit's land to the Communist Empire, awesomely titled Why The Kremlin Hates Bananas.
Some s**t just writes itself. With the general public sufficiently convinced that Guatemala was a threat (good thing we don't fall for s**t like that anymore), the CIA was free to pounce and promptly launched "Operation PBSuccess." They didn't call it that because it failed. In short order, the US replaced the freely elected Arbenz with a right wing dictator more willing to answer to the demands of United Fruit and Guatemala's brief flirtation with democracy and prosperity was over.
But this story does have a happy ending. The civil war that resulted from the CIA initiated coup did finally come to an end.